The Olympus SH-1 sits somewhere in between a point-and-shoot and an advanced compact, with specs that could make it swing either way. It has two out of the four typical manual modes, but doesn't have RAW or the larger sensor and faster aperture typically associated with the advanced compact category. But as the first compact camera with five-axis image stabilization that can be used in both stills and video, it's certainly has an advantage over other point-and-shoot models.
The SH-1 features Olympus' now iconic retro design common in their mirrorless models. Despite looking vintage, the 3" LCD is a touchscreen style and there's plenty of modern features on the inside. It weighs just 9.5 ounces and is fairly compact.
Inside, the SH-1 has a 16 megapixel backside illuminated CMOS sensor that's 1/2.3", the typical size for most point-and-shoots (some budget models are smaller). The maximum aperture of f3.0-6.9 is also more typical of a point-and-shoot than an advanced compact. But what's not typical is a 24x true zoom paired with an excellent super macro mode. The five axis image stabilization can't be found anywhere else (at least at the time of release anyway) and even the video quality with 60p should be quite good.
Performance-wise, the Olympus SH-1 can shoot at up to 11.5 frames per second, which is a pretty good rate. The fastest speed will take about 16 images in a row, or you can slow it down to 2.5 fps at full resolution and take as many as 200 shots in a row. The maximum shutter speed is 1/2000, which is around average for a solid point-and-shoot (excluding those budget models).
Without the full manual modes and larger sensor that's typical for an advanced compact, we've placed the Olympus SH-1 in the point-and-shoot category. Those looking for an advanced compact would likely be disappointed by the more limited features. But, for those looking for a camera that makes it easy to take both good pictures and solid video, the Olympus SH-1 is an excellent option. It's packed with more features than the average point-and-shoot, plus an excellent zoom, fast performance and extra features to boost the user experience like wi-fi and a 380 shot battery life.
The Olympus SH-1 will retail for about $400, which is about right for a camera sitting in between the advanced compact and point-and-shoot categories.
Olympus is a long-time camera manufacturer, but lately they've been offering innovative, compact imaging options that are well worth a look. While Olympus doesn't have a camera in every category like Nikon or Sony, their focus on the cameras they offer shows.
Olympus' main, and best, cameras are their mirrorless line. The OM-D line offers mirrorless cameras that rival professional results while their PEN options offer the most portability and affordability. Most of their mirrorless cameras have simple, retro designs that work really well. Their kit lenses are often a bit higher quality than most. The Olympus mirrorless cameras we've been able to test have shown excellent image quality and usability.
While most of Olympus' focus seems to be on their excellent mirrorless line, we haven't been disappointed with any of their compacts we've put through our tests either. The TG-3 and TG-4 are among the best waterproof compacts on the market. And when we put the super zoom SP-100 to the test, we were quite happy with the image quality and performance.
Olympus may not have a camera in each and every category, but they've really put a lot into their existing cameras, making them excellent options.
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